American in Spain

The taxman cometh, and the taxman taketh away

June 10, 2009
Spain and USA Flags Merged

This morning we went through the annual rigmarole that is reporting income and paying taxes in your country of residence when you work and pay income tax in another country. Once again, the amount of taxes that I pay on my income in the States was less than what I would pay in Spain if I earned the same salary. Because the US and Spain have a treaty to avoid double taxation, I was made to pay the difference. How much do you think that difference was? Keep in mind that I get free medical care, and the birth of my daughter didn't cost me a penny. Yes, over here in pinko commie land, I suffer from the worst possible scenario imaginable: The government makes decisions about my healthcare!! I don't enjoy the freedom that Americans have of letting an insurance company, whose goal is to make a profit for their shareholders by not giving out money and taking bribes from drug companies, make decisions about their healthcare. So, what was the exorbitant amount of extra money I had to pay for the superior equivalent of US health insurance?


At today's exchange rate, that's $5.64. Unbelievable. Last year's was 24€, by the way.

What it did cost us is that my wife's taxes, which were calculated with the assumption that she was supporting a lazy live-at-home-and-watch-daytime-soaps husband. Once I was in the system as employed with a salary, they took away a three-day-weekend-jet-set-vacation-sized chunk of her refund.

The whole experience has left us wondering, "Why bother?" The spreadsheet that I put two hours of work into to show my monthly paycheck in euros at the exchange rate of the date of the check was briefly scanned, and not double-checked at all with my official W-2 form showing my income and paid taxes for the year. It could all have been falsified and no one would notice or care.

While a certain moral argument could be made that it's not fair to the women who really do have deadbeat husbands to pay the same as they do when we, in reality, have more income, it's not like me registering with the Spanish Taxman every year is actually contributing anything at all to the infrastructure that I use every day. My money's going to pay for the US infrastructure, not Spain's. It's not like the US is saying, "Oh, if he lives over there, you guys can have all this money he paid us." Not even close. And that's a problem with the system that's too big for me to try and solve.

Needless to say, there is some doubt as to whether or not we will continue to go through this rigmarole every year when both countries seem content to assume that my wife and I live on the separate continents that we work on.

Yes, that was a horrible mixture of metaphors in the post title. Don't you just love it?